A useful document to understand mental health standards, “The Intellectual Disability Mental Health Core Competency Framework describes the specific skills and attributes required by mental health professionals for the provision of quality mental health services to people with an intellectual disability.”[Emphasis in original]

The framework provides “the necessary approaches to clinical practice when working with people with an intellectual disability, identifies the Core Competencies workers require, and guides readers to resources that support professional development in intellectual disability mental health.” As this is a new and specialised area of practice that is largely unknown to mental health practitioners, the resource is quite timely heading into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Australia.

Rightly or wrongly, having this framework readily available (it is free – click here) might raise expectations of families and people with disabilities. However, many acknowledge that mainstream health and social services agencies require capacity building to take on board many of the new national standards. This process of transforming mainstream services to gain expertise in disability, dual diagnosis, and complex cases may in fact take another five to ten years.

The draft framework was “developed for mainstream mental health professionals within the NSW public health service.” Therefore, in some respects the information may come across within the culture of this public service. They do say however that the document “would also be beneficial to non-government services and private professionals who provide mental health services.”

At this stage in the NDIS roll out, I would say that any resource is extremely precious and timely – and ought to be studied and adapted to different settings. Unfortunately for many mainstream practitioners, the pressures to gain skills and competencies will be quite a pragmatic and case-by-case issue as the NDIS rolls out across the country and in the years that follow.